Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sleeping Dogs” as Want to Read:
Sleeping Dogs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sleeping Dogs

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  617 ratings  ·  69 reviews
When a stranger enters a family's midst and insists on discovering all of their darkest secrets, the family begins a slow and painful descent into decay and madness. By the author of Wilful Blue. ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Viking Children's Books (first published June 29th 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sleeping Dogs, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sleeping Dogs

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina MarchettaThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakSaving Francesca by Melina MarchettaTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenLooking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Favourite Aussie YA books
450 books — 1,007 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenLooking for Alibrandi by Melina MarchettaOn the Jellicoe Road by Melina MarchettaLife in Outer Space by Melissa Keil
400 books — 208 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  617 ratings  ·  69 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sleeping Dogs
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: aussie-ya
This book is so hard for me to rate - on one hand Sonia Hartnett's writing is stunning and I love how this is like an Aussie version of Faulkner's The Sound and the fury, one of my all time favourite novels. I'd go as far to say that Hartnett's writing is right up there with the greats. I just found that firstly, this story is incredibly brutal and unrelenting to the point that I had not much heart at the beginning to want to keep reading. Don't get me wrong - I like dark books (The Sound and th ...more
that was sooo horrible

I am at a loss for words.

This was a gritty and brutal look into a damaged family. Both mentally and physically damaged, the Willow's are at the same time inexplicably close and immensely lonely beings. The glimpse into their lives is tragic and taboo, covering a raft of events that all lead to a horrific conclusion.

I shudder to think that there are families like this out there, but know, sadly, that there are.

This book, which is deliciously written, will leave you feeling dirty for having read
A short powerful novel that tests the boundaries of what is a family, an individual's role in the community they live in and what happens if a system, although seemingly weird, is tampered with.
The Willow family is unusual, living in a derelict farm that offers new meaning to a farm-stay. The father is a brute and rules his tribe with an iron hand. The eldest Edward seems to run the farm and does have some interaction with the local town. 23 year old Michelle and the dreaming, artist 20 year old
Cass Moriarty
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Australian author Sonya Hartnett’s dark YA novella Sleeping Dogs (Penguin Random House 1995) is a compact, precise and unsettling depiction of a family bound by secrets and violence, and their disturbing encounter with a stranger. The Willow family scrabbles to exist on their ailing farm, their house deteriorating, the five children wary and careful, the mother almost catatonic and the father ruling the roost with an iron fist. Tourists in caravans stay for the summer season, but when artist Bow ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: brothers
This is well-written, but the writing style had the effect of distancing me emotionally from the characters and events in the story. (view spoiler) ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Genre: YA
Is it the main pairing: Yes
Is it canon: Yes
Is it explicit: No
Is it endgame: Nope
Is it shippable: Not particularly but there are interesting facets to their relationship
Bottom line: Borrow it from the library but don’t pay cash money for it

The Willow family lives on a farm in the ass-end of nowhere and it ain’t no picturesque farm either: “Farms are places for working, not preening.” They work from sunup till sundown and they none of them have friends but they do have a pack of dogs. The
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am a big fan of Sonya. She's an amazing Australian writer. This book was similar yet so different from the book I have previous read by Sonya. It seems like every time she writes a book she takes it up a notch.

This book hit me at my heart because it's about country kids in Australia. I am a country kid is Australia. It's a very confronting book that touches on a lot of issues that arise when you remove the outside world from young people's lives and replace it with an unhealthy obsession with
Heather Josephine Pue
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english
They say that you should let sleeping dogs lie and this is certainly the case in Sonya Hartnett’s Sleeping Dogs, a novel that tells the tale of the Willow family, a rather secluded family living an isolated life on their farm, avoiding contact with the outside world, save a few campers stopping to spend the night at their caravan park. The Willows are strange and bizarre, but it is the way that Harntett writes of them as though they were normal that makes the novel so stunning. Right from the be ...more
noemi [dogeatsreads]
And that’s yet another book by Sonya Hartnett that really shouldn’t have sat in the “children’s” section of the bookshop. Incest, domestic violence, animal cruelty, you know all that good stuff you find on Play School.

I’m all seriousness though, it is good stuff. I absolutely love everything I read from Hartnett (as an adult) and this book was no exception. The only thing that made me rate this book 3.5 stars is my lack of connection to any of the characters. I felt sorry for Jordan but that’s
Stephanie Tournas
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
The Willow family lives in squalor on a farm/trailer park. Griffin, the father of the clan, is a violent, controlling man who has cowed his wife and 5 children into accepting that there is no life worth living beyond their the farm's borders. When a stranger enters their world, a horrible secret is revealed, resulting in terrible violence.

"We must be ruthless," Edward snarls, "because we lead ruthless lives ... This is our existence ... this house, this land, that father, that mother - there's n
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A very powerful novel about a family who has isolated themselves on a farm. The mother has withdrawn and the father is abusive, towards one son in particular. The children only spend time with each other and there is an incestuous relationship between one of the sisters and brothers. To make money their farm doubles as a caravan park and when a man named Bow Fox arrives trouble begins for the family. The ending is brutal and breathtaking.
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Abrupt and vicious, this story, if fleshed out could have really been something.

The complexity of the characters, their demons and their ghosts are overshadowed by the mechanics of plot.

Why the author provides only a brief painful glimpse of this family eludes me, why throw back the big fish with the hungry looking on?

Having said that - well worth the read, still plenty to admire, even if it is the potential that excites.

Jul 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: YA and up
This book is short, and dark, and I love it. This is the second Hartnett book I've read. Even though it's real downer, it is also incredibly exhilirating. Hartnett's prose is sharp and clean and methodically used to illustrate a darker portrait of family that is typically held back from the young adult reader. ...more
This was the first Sonya Hartnett that I ever read...and what a story to begin with! The Willow family is isolated, disfunctional and violent, and Hartnett sucks you into their world with vehemence and skill. This novel left me breathless.

Addendum: I reread this during a couple of Wide Reading session this year and it still has immense power and all the feels. Amazing writing.
Stacey Zwynenberg
I don't know what I think about this book. ...more
Debbie Lamb
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Audio book downloaded today - 4 hours long and I listened to it in one sitting.

The narrator is stunning. She projects the right amount of menace and weirdness with each character. The writing is evocative as well as detailed without being wordy.

This has so many strands woven into it of family loyalty, family violence, incest, dysfunction and the contradictions of what normality should be. Hartnett has a wonderful writing style that packs a punch in every sentence. This family is screwed up for
Amazing writing on a tragic theme.
Jacinda Bryce
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Just gut wrenching. Oh my god.
Jenna Baldwin
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book when I was a teenager and love it just as much now
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brooding, delirious story about isolation, abuse, family and a strange who thinks he knows best
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like a train building momentum to the inevitable end.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super intense. It's a mix of The Hills Have Eyes, Flowers in the Attic, and Dracula. Very uncomfortable but very well-written. ...more
Molly Mcgrail
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
There wasn’t a single likeable character in this novella and I still gave it 4 stars. A memorable & quick read.
Chris Waterford
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it
One of my favourite authors but this book is very dark and violent.. I loved the writing but didn't like how the story evolved. ...more
Linda-Alexandra Bos
Mar 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
This really was a waste of my time to read. Incest, opression and childkilling. Horrible book. Ughhhh
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Yes, I'm not-so-slowly working my way through Hartnett's oeuvre.

This is one of her earlier titles, and it's fairly obvious. The characters aren't as richly drawn as in her more recent books, and her language isn't as poetic. It's still recognizably her, but somehow this novel feels like a prototype for the far-superior Thursday's Child--the same bleak landscape and poverty-stricken farm, a similar dysfunctional family. Somehow, though, despite the absence of any small feral child digging subter
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melinda Szymanik
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
amazing writing. I wanted to be annoyed at the constant change of POV but its well handled and shows that this not a rule that can't be broken. But I HATED the ending. I guess that's part of why I find the book so good and the writing so compelling but I am distraught at what happened. There is nothing protective about innocence. In fact sometimes it is the magnet for destruction from the corrupted that surround it. And I couldn't decide who was worse, Griffin or Bow. So different and yet in the ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had to read this novel as part of my uni booklist this semester, but to my surprise I found myself so hooked in by the story that I read it in one seating.
I enjoyed the novel and found it all extremely interesting, especially learning about all the characters- even though a lot of the subject matter and plot made me feel unnervingly uncomfortable. The ending was especially jarring and the whole story really made me think. I think the author did an amazing job and I'd be really interested in r
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the end I loved this book. While the beginning was a bit slow, by about the middle I was hooked. In my head I was yelling at Beau Fox to get the heck out of there because he had messed with the wrong family. I was a bit disappointed the he never really gets his full comeuppance but then again that adds to Sonya's certain type of charm, focussing on the coldness and raw emotion of things. She has become an author that I love. Her books always speak volumes and this was no exception. It was tru ...more
« previous 1 3 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Deeplight
  • Who is Jesse Flood? (Junior Library Guild Selection)
  • Girt (The Unauthorised History of Australia #1)
  • My Purple Scented Novel
  • The Confession
  • Ring of Gold (The Golden Circle, #1)
  • The Weekend
  • Anything You Want
  • There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness
  • Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity
  • Second Skin
  • The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
  • The Yield
  • Sleep
  • The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1)
  • Ghost Bird
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
  • The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull
See similar books…
Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also en ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
3 likes · 0 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »